Thursday, November 20, 2008

The emptiness of the moment

So, it's been quite some while since I sat down to write something here. The reason is pretty simple: I didn't having anything to write about.

Did you ever notice how sometimes, our lives get on such a fast rhythm, that nothing remains constant. The truth of yesterday is the lie of today, what yesterday you liked today doesn't stern any kind of interest inside of's the weirdest thing.

If in case you don't know what I'm talking about, can you recall 3 weeks of your life where one the first you were totally happy, then pretty miserable and happy again on the 3rd week.

Sometimes I get the feeling that my life has a mind of it's own and I'm just a spectator in it.

But enough off this bullshit.

The fact is that we all like to ground our reality in something, so when the situation changes, we have a solid anchor point.

Most of us tie their reality to external elements (I am rich, have a nice car, a good job....this is WHO I AM), the problem with this is that external elements are not fully in our control (think about how many rich people became poor over the past year, due to the global recession). When we tie our reality to external elements, we risk a lot, because they can disappear over night, and our reality, concept of who we are with it.

This is how most of us westerners live our lives, but if you go to Asia, you will notice a different tendency. People have their reality anchored inside of themselves, who they are is not determined by what they poses. So when the exterior world changes, their identity and the perception they have about themselves remain constant.

This perception of life was adopted in the movie Fight Club as well. Some of you might remember this quote from the movie:

"You are not your job.
You are not how much you have in the bank.
You are not the contents of your wallet.
You are not your fucking Khakis.

This is what I've been trying to achieve during the past few years. Detaching my sense of identity from objects and placing it back into myself where it belongs.

However....there was and is a simple question in my mind:

What the F*** does it mean to place your anchors inside yourself???

It's a weird concept and a hard one at the same time.

The best direction I found was to define my reality, by what I want, what my purpose is, what I believe is right and wrong, how I think I should live my life and other concepts (some of them I mentioned on this blog).

The truth is that finding yourself in yourself, is much much harder than I would have thought...

Whenever I think that: "YES, I'm finally on the right path" Something comes up and makes me realize that at one point I made a mistake in my rationalization.

In the past few months my reality has been challenged quite a lot (thanks to a special friend :) ) and also had a lot of challenges, which resulted in me having to spend time deciding if what I was doing and how I did them, were right or wrong, beneficial or not for me on the long term.

And you know what? On many occasions I realized, that I wasn't doing things the right way and that I need to change things. A couple of times my entire reality was shaken from its roots.

Was it pleasant?, not at all.

Was it beneficial for me and my sense of identity/reality?...I sure damn hope so.

The thing I start realizing while I'm writing this post is that, if I want a strong reality and sense of identity, I need to challenge it as hard and as often as possible.

But there's a downside to this.

When you challenge your reality, you will lose many things, including your self confidence and desire to obtain different things.

I presume that you have to balance out how often you push yourself to grow your reality and how often and for how long you take the time to benefit from your reality, before you decide to push it again. You can't do both.

How ever the catch is that you don't really decide, when you are going to be challenged, so you need to know how to handle it.

Will you profit from the challenge and let yourself grow, or will you ignore it for a while and continue doing what you were doing in your current reality.

To be a bit of a social critic, most people tend to do the second and that's why their perception of reality is so so so messed up and bad.

However, it seems that I went a bit overboard and let my reality change way too much recently and let it go a bit out of control? Not sure.

All i know is that, I'm not really sure where I am in my life, what I want to do and where i want to go. And I need to do something about this....I need to find myself again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The fear of losing comfort

As i promised in my last post, I will more into detail why we choose instant over delayed gratification most of the time. The key concept for this is: The Fear of Loss of Comfort (FLC)

Pretty much all people (including you) make a very big part of their decisions based on fears. Be it
  • the fear of getting hurt (physically or emotionally),
  • the fear of going hungry (when you eat),
  • the fear of dying (when you choose not to go bungee jumping or skydiving),
  • the fear of being rejected (when you meet someone new),
  • the fear of not being loved (when you try to be nice to people you like),
  • the fear of hurting someone that you love (when you are not up front and you don't speak your mind if you don't like something that the other person does),
  • the fear of getting fired (when you suck up to your boss),
  • the fear of gaining weight (when you go on a diet),
  • the fear of financial instability (when you take a job you don't enjoy doing),
  • the fear of losing something you own (when you refuse to lend something to someone),
  • the fear of being cheated (when you go into an expensive store to buy something, while you can get it on EBay for half the price),
  • the fear of being useless (when people never ask for your opinion)

As you can see we have a huge amount of fears and this list is only a small part. All of us make many of our decisions controlled by at least one of these fears. You may call it our instinct for survival, which 50,000 years ago, when we lived in caves, were the one that kept us alive day by day based on these fears. Today however things have changed quite a bit, and many of these fears became either obsolete or counterproductive. If you know a person well enough, you can lend him your stuff without too big of a risk (some people still refuse), or if you meet someone new and they reject you, the consequences are usually nonexistent (50,000 years ago if you upset someone who you didn't know, chances were that you could have gotten killed by that person).

The same is true for mos of the fears and even though having a healthy sense of fear is many times useful, you cannot let yourself be controlled by them, you cannot afford to make your decisions based on fears, because most of the time, they are incorrect. You need to keep an objective perspective on the situation.

So you might be asking yourself: "How do I get away from acting on fears? Heck, how can I tell if I'm acting on a fear, if there are so many of them?"

This brings us to our key concept, the fear of losing comfort (FLC). Why is this a key concept? Well to put it simply, because this is the only true fear that we have. All fears come down to avoiding some form of comfort loss. We have a situation that we're comfortable in and we don't want that to change, since we MIGHT not like the consequences. At least according to our instinct of survival, which as I mentioned, is very VERY outdated.

So let me repeat this, when we are in a situation that we like, we will resist any kind of change, due to the fear of losing the state of comfort that we're in. Even if the change would assure us of a 95% chance of improvement to our level of comfort, the FLC will start screaming about that 5%, and if you're not able to control your fear you will act on it, and chose to stay in your current state.

To make it more clear how lose of comfort is the common element for all fears, I'll give you a few examples:
the fear of dying (when you choose not to go bungee jumping or skydiving) - what bigger discomfort is there then to be dead

the fear of being rejected (when you meet someone new) - you are currently in a state of comfort, if you try and meet somebody and get rejected, you will feel uncomfortable

the fear of not being loved (when you try to be nice to people you like) - being loved is a very comfortable state you're in, losing that love would create huge amount of discomfort

the fear of getting fired (when you suck up to your boss) - losing your job would create a very uncomfortable situation for you

All fears come down to some kind of loss of comfort, thus the only true fear is the fear of losing comfort(FLC). So every time you're in a situation that you're comfortable in and a certain action would require you to lose that state of comfort, you can be pretty sure that a fear will pop up and try to talk you out of making the action that will make you lose comfort, that would deny your INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

Instant gratification (IG) is pretty much a form of FLC. IG gives you instant comfort and satisfies your FLC or at least avoids the loss of comfort.

So every time you act on IG you are acting on a fear, on the FLC.

This is a very bad tendency, since delayed gratification is usually more profitable in the long run.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Delayed Gratification vs Instant Gratification

Why are we so prone to choose instant gratification over delayed gratification, even though delaying the gratification usually brings greater satisfaction and happiness?

Well lately I've been struggling with another dilemma, to which I couldn't find an accurate answer, regardless if I asked average people or psychologists. The answers that I got, only explained this tendency in a limited environment or for a specific situation, but when you tried to apply it in general they usually failed.

Well after boggling my mind with this, this morning I came up with a concept, that in my opinion links all the theories together and can offer a general explanation.

However before I continue, I think it would be best to describe what I mean by "instant and delayed gratification".

The simplest way for this would be through an example:
Let's say, when you were a kid, you're mom was making you're favorite pie and you loved it so much, that you couldn't wait for it to be done so that you can taste it. So what did you do? When the pie was done and your mom took it out of the oven, smelling that incredible smell, you ran there took a piece of the hot pie and stuffed in your mouth, even though you knew that it's gonna burn your tongue and that it's gonna be soar for a few days after (maybe even so much that you wouldn't be able to taste the rest of the pie).

I'm pretty sure that most of us are familiar with this story. Some of us (including me :) ) still do it to this day. We choose to be gratified in the instant when the pie is still hot, even though we are conscious that it will burn our tongue, instead of delaying the gratification, waiting a bit for the pie to cool down, and enjoy the same grate taste without the added suffering.

We know, that if we delay the gratification, it will serve us better, but we are so overwhelmed that we choose to do something that satisfies us less in the long term.

This tendency shows up in countless situations and what we usually choose is the instant gratification over the delayed one. Be it a choice between watching TV and cleaning the room (the 2nd would offer us more comfort in the long run), eating fast-food (+taste, -health) over salad (+health, -taste) etc.

The common element in most of these, is feeling instant discomfort or less comfort, if we delay the gratification. If we choose to eat the salad, we will enjoy less taste in the moment, if we clean the room it will be less comfortable since we will need to invest some energy and if we eat the pie later, the wait will create a lack of comfort for a period of time.

On the other hand, if we chose to gratify ourselves in the instant, we will feel an instant rush of good emotions, an instant "reward" for our actions.

So it is pretty obvious why instant gratification would seem the better choice at first glance. You reduce instant discomfort and feel instant pleasure. It doesn't sound like a bad deal, does it?

.....Well IT IS a bad deal, in fact a horrible one in most cases.

I'll go into the details in my next post.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Emotional Connections - part 2

After my post yesterday I've meat up with a few good friends of mine and went to have some fun. During our discussions I've pretty much came to the conclusion, that one of my friends, is the type of person who almost never creates emotional connections with other people. Being a brilliant thinker he tends to limit himself to mostly pure intellectual connections.

This got me thinking even more deeply about the subject, which brought me to a realization on why we humans hold emotional connections so highly and allow ourselves, to trust people, with which we have these types of connections, more easily.

Most times when we're making decisions, especially in difficult situations, we tend to get influenced by emotions and feelings like fear, hate and love. Weak and emotional people tend to rely a lot more on these influences, ending up making decisions that lack sense and logic, while strong people manage to control their emotions a lot better, making better decisions.

In order to be able to trust somebody at a deep level, it is my belief that people need to know the emotional integrity of the other person at an unconscious level. We have to know how deep the other person is, in order to be able to estimate how they would act in different situations.

By no means are these estimations made consciously, they all happen in our deep unconscious. Just like when we look at the body language of another person and make automatic and unconscious judgments based on the information we perceive, when we come in contact with the emotional depth of the other person, we make automatic estimations on what their reactions would be in difficult situations.

If we "like" what we feel the we will be able to trust the other person more, but if we feel a lack of emotional integrity and dept, we will automatically become suspicious and cautious.

Of course how well we can understand the value and the meaning of other people's emotions, is based on our life experience and how emotionally savvy we are. This is why many people let themselves get hurt by others, even though they came in contact with the other person's emotional depth. They have access to the "information", but they just don't have the knowledge to understand the meaning of it...but I feel that we are going a bit off track here.

To rap it up, people need emotional connections, not just because it is the only way to blissful happiness, but because it's a direct way to understanding the emotional integrity of the other person, giving us the chance to trust the other person.

Any comments regarding this subject are welcomed. Use the comment button below. Thank you.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Emotional Connections - manipulation or sensation?

What is an emotional connection and how do you create it?
This question has been on my mind a lot in the past few weeks, but the trouble was that wherever I searched, the answers that I found were either way to complicated or you could just tell that they were inaccurate, not fitting into everyday's reality. So I had no other choice but to analyze the dynamics of it and create my own concept about the subject.

So what is this thing that we like to simply refer to as "emotional connection"?

Well a "connection" between two people happens when they share a common thought or feeling and through this element you unite your intellectual and/or emotional energy. For example let's take Bob and Bill who are complete strangers to each other.

One day both Bob and Bill go to the same club and sit next to each other at the bar. While enjoying their drinks, they get into a conversation about cars, since both of them enjoy this subject, and they talk about manufacturers, reliability, prices etc. During this conversation an intellectual connection is created between them based around a common element (cars), through this connection they share their intellectual energy, by both expressing their thoughts about the subject. Through this sharing of intellectual energy, a synergy is created giving excellent value to the conversation and the life of Bob and Bill.

So, what about "emotional connections"?

Well it is my belief that, this happens when people share feelings. This can be done by:
  • sharing your emotions about a certain subject or experience, the stronger the emotions you experienced the stronger the connection
  • sharing an experience that awakens the same emotions in both person (watching a comedy or horror movie together, experiencing a horrible or very pleasant experience, going to a social gathering where you only know each other)
  • telling a story that awakens strong emotions in the other person
  • doing something that leaves a deep and pleasant emotional mark on the other person (helping in need, conveying to the other person his importance, making her/him feel good about her/himself)
Basically anytime you share a deep enough emotion/feeling with another person, the emotional connection between the two gets stronger. And like the examples point it out, these sharing can be unilateral or bilateral, meaning that it is not necessary for both participants to share their emotions in order for the connection to get stronger. But if it's bilateral the effect will probably be much more stronger.

So, what are the effects of emotional connections....(and I always refer to positive connections, they can be negative as well, but they aren't very useful)

Well first of all if there is an emotional connection between two people, the two will prioritize each other over other people (many times even over themselves). So basically if a person takes the time to create an emotional connection with someone, there is a high likelihood that this connection will be very productive for him, as long as it's sustained.

Now, if we think about this effect, emotional connection in marketing and sales can be incredibly valuable. If you can skillfully manipulate the communications between the company and client, you can quickly create a connection, making the selling of the product a lot easier.

Also if you look at people who are considered users and manipulators, we can notice that they all have exceptional skills in manipulating the emotions of others by using the methods mentioned above. So if you want to obtain something from someone, the easiest way to do it is by creating an artificial emotional connection.

Now chances are that if you read the last few paragraphs, you might be thinking, well if I can be so easily manipulated through emotional connections, I should close my self up and become emotionally isolated from others. And unfortunately a lot of people do this, when they get hurt, when their connection gets severed by the other person. They lock themselves up so that they don't get hurt again.

In my opinion, anyone that does this is pretty much a retard....and this brings us to the other and more valuable effect of emotional connections: the sensation.

Us humans have a relatively short life span (around 27,000 days). The element that make these days invaluable are emotions, feelings and happiness (I won't argue why here, you either get it or you don't).

When there's an emotional connection between two people, something incredible happens. Just like in the example of intellectual connection, a synergy is created between the emotional energies of the two. This synergy can result in levels of emotions that are over ten times higher than the combined values of their individual energy, thus multiplying our greatest resource.

Through emotional connection, a situation is created, in which both of the participants gain an indefinite boost in their most prized possession: emotional energy.

But you have to take into consideration that a surge like this in your energy level can be very hard to control and this is why many relations between people end violently. If you are not an emotionally strong person it is recommended to ease into the intensity of the emotional connection, so that you can accommodate to it. But if you are powerful then you can jump into the deepest point of the "pool" and enjoy the "swim"

So if you want to manipulate someone, your best might be in creating an emotional connection. but if you truly want to enjoy the greatness of life, then you should invest as much time as possible, into creating emotional connection with the people that surround you and enjoy the incredible fruits it produces.

Any comments regarding this subject are welcomed. Use the comment button below. Thank you.

Part 2